Wednesday, January 11, 2017

All about me: One of those Facebook things I never do

These exercises show up on Facebook in various forms, covering different topics. I saw this one today and I thought it would be interesting (to me) because it's all about me! It's not a polite conversation of give-and-take, back-and-forth. It's like being interviewed.

And it's easy. I'm working on some pieces that are a little more difficult and require some research so I liked this one.

1. Who are you named after?

I think I remember asking my mother if I'd been named after anyone she knew and the answer was no. Neither my sister nor I were named after anyone. They were just names my mother liked. (I'm pretty sure my father would have been happy with Mum's choices.)

2. Last time you cried?

I saw a film called Lion a few days ago. It's the story of a tiny boy of five — played by Sunny Pawar, maybe the cutest little guy ever — who gets lost in the teeming streets of Calcutta. I won't tell you the story although Sunny grows up to be played by Dev Patel and along the way, there are some touching and some quite wrenching moments. Anyone might shed a few tears.

Sunny and Dev at the Golden Globes

3. Do you like your handwriting?

Sure. What's not to like? I do remember that I was a terrible writer in early elementary school but by about grade five, I became aware that I was surrounded by fellow students who had such pretty writing that I made it a project to improve mine. I don't think I ever made it "pretty" and I didn't dot my "i's" with little hearts or anything like that. But I think my writing is pretty nice.

4. What is your favourite lunch meat?

Such an odd question and so out of place. I remember as a little kid really liking sandwiches made with one of Mum's freshly baked rolls, a slice of Kam and French's yellow mustard. I told Mum it was what I was going to serve at my wedding. (I didn't.) There were also Spam and Klik and Prem. Probably others too but it was always Kam for me. I don't eat Kam any more. I do like a good ham. We had an excellent one over Christmas.

5. Do you have kids?

I do.

Here he is. His name is William and he's a university student studying political science. He's just started an NDP students' association. (Photo by Keisha Toner.)

6. Do you use sarcasm?

Who, me? Why I'd never even consider it.

7. Do you still have your tonsils?

I do not. I had my tonsils removed when I was 21. It's considered major surgery when you're an adult and it was quite an ordeal. I was in my final year as a nursing student at the Montreal General Hospital and I was admitted to the 20th floor — a private floor and the height of hospital luxury. Even still, I wouldn't recommend it as a casual experience.

8. Would you bungee jump?

No.

9. What is your favorite kind of cereal?

I'm not a big eater of cereal although I grew up eating porridge and shredded wheat — remember those big dry clumps that you'd crumble into your bowl and soak in milk?

I like corn flakes and rice krispies. I don't like any cereal that's "frosted" or is so obviously sugared-up.

10. Married?

I am. I've written about meeting my husband right here and about our wedding over here. They're both awfully good stories and I recommend them.

11. Do you think you are strong?

Tough question. Do you think I'm strong? I haven't really been tested the way so many people have; in general, I've led quite a fortunate and privileged life. I did, however, go through a robbery where I was held at knife-point and left bound and gagged in my bathroom and there were people who thought I handled that with some fortitude. I wrote about that too and you can read it here.

12. What is your favourite ice cream?

Oh, it changes. Right now, I like a small bowl, every so often, of Breyer's Gelato, vanilla and caramel. It's decadently lovely and you must not eat too much of it because you don't want it to become commonplace or familiar. You want it to remain an aloof luxurious enigma.

13. What is the first thing you notice about somebody?

Hmmm. It depends, of course. Are they walking toward me? Am I being introduced to them? Are they alone? Is there something terribly unusual or eccentric about them? Are they behind me? I find this question almost impossible to answer. When I get an answer to all my questions, I'll try again.

14. Football or baseball?

Baseball.

15. What is one thing you like about yourself?

Golly. What can I say? I guess I like the fact that I'm quite self-disciplined and quite organized. I think I'm considerate of others and I try to make the world a better place. I like my hair.

16. What colour pants are you wearing?

Black.

17. Last thing you ate?

Beef stew with dumplings.

18. What are you listening to right now?

SiriusXM Streaming. Margaret Whiting singing The Way You Look Tonight.

19. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?

Probably forest green.

20. Favourite smell?

As so many others do, I love the smell of bread right out of the oven.

And on a more romantic note, I love the fragrance Summer Hill by Crabtree & Evelyn.

Don't worry, I mostly wear it at home or to my hair salon where I assume it will fit right in and won't cause any allergic reactions. I'm respectful of allergies and there are plenty of perfumes and colognes that I really hate. But Summer Hill is light and floral and irresistible — in its place.

21. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

My sister, Marilyn. She had a birthday last week and I called a day or two post-birthday for an extended chat.

That's Marilyn in front with her beloved granddaughter Aleesha. Standing behind her are her husband Tom, her daughter Lisa, son-in-law Mike, and son Matthew (Aleesha's dad.) The picture was taken at their cottage on the upper Miramichi.

22. Favorite sport to watch on TV?

Baseball. Or basketball. It depends on what's on. I know and love the game of baseball and I always wonder how anyone could find it dull. There's so much to watch for in a baseball game: a perfect double play, or a bunt laid down the third-base line and a dramatic slide into second, or the tension as the pitcher shakes off the catcher's signals, looking for the perfect pitch and rattling the batter a little while he's at it. So exciting and suspenseful and dramatic. Basketball is, of course, not very subtle. It's just exciting because it is.

23. Hair colour?

I often say it's platinum but it is, admittedly, snowy white.

24. Eye colour?

Blue.

25. Favourite food to eat?

Whatever is placed in front of me when I'm really hungry. One of my most-read posts on this blog is called The best thing I ever ate. . .

26. Scary movies or happy?

There are more than two categories of movies. I don't particularly like scary movies but I like lots of movies that wouldn't be described as "happy." One of my favourite movies, going back quite far, is Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean. It's a Robert Altman movie and it stars Cher, Sandy Dennis, Karen Black, Kathy Bates. One of the reviewers called it "soft and sad" — which it was, so neither scary nor happy.

27. Last movie you watched on TV?

The Railway Man: "A former British Army officer, who was tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him." It was good although I usually don't watch movies if I sense there's going to be torture. There was torture but I averted my eyes.

28. Last movie you watched at a theatre?

Lion, as noted above. Far far above. However, the second-last movie I saw was La La Land. I won't go into any detail because I don't want to provide spoilers so if you want to know what I thought of it, send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope and I'll definitely be in touch.

29. What colour shirt are you wearing?

White with a red and black geometric pattern. (?)

There's the shirt on a London sight-seeing bus. If I'd been thinking ahead, I could have used this photo to illustrate number 5 and number 23.

30. Favourite holiday?

Christmas, I suppose, although that seems very conventional and predictable. I really like Easter too. Both are religious and traditional and steeped in family lore but Easter seems a little more flexible. It's a beautiful time of year also, alive with hope and lengthening days. The feast is fresh and bright and there's lemon in every course.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wishing for a happy and peaceful 2017

Of course, it will take a lot more than wishing to bring about the kind of year that the world deserves.

Many people think of the Monday after Labour Day as the real New Year. I can understand why but January 1 feels like a new beginning to me. All the brand new calendars, the beautiful Christmas tree out to the curb, the settling-in after holidays to challenge the winter.

2017 is going to be a major challenge. A lot of people around the world and here at home are going to need help and support. I hope we will all do what we can to reach out to our community and beyond.

New Year's Eve is a much-anticipated celebration and, sad to say, is often a letdown for that very reason. Here's a story I've shared before in which New Year's Eve lived up to all expectations. It's the story of New Year's Eve in Madrid.

Friday, December 23, 2016

From Macy's to medieval music; from Scrooge to the Bolshoi

Back in the balmy days of August when we made our entertainment choices for the months ahead, Christmas looked something like this:

As I always think it's nice to incorporate some theatre and music into the Christmas rush, we went ahead and scheduled our outings and bought our tickets not really remembering that the reality of Christmas is often this:

We managed pretty well though and only had one day where the weather was unpleasant and — being in Halifax — it was more rain than snow. Rain and wind.

Ever since William was a little guy, we've tried to go to the Neptune Theatre Christmas production each year. In August, when we were getting the tickets, we had no idea where William might be during the holidays so we bought two tickets. But William is home from university and was happy to join us for the family tradition so Dan searched out a third ticket. Neptune had only two tickets left, both in the balcony, on opposite sides from each other. I said I'd be happy to go to the balcony (not!) so the ticket was bought.

They didn't make me go to the balcony though. Dan went up and William and I sat in the aisle seats of Row E. You get good seats when you buy your tickets in August.

Neptune's Production was Miracle on 34th Street. (Photo borrowed from Local Xpress.)

It was really good and we all enjoyed it. It runs until well after Christmas so you might enjoy it too.

That was indeed a busy day for us as we had two major events. We had a delightful early dinner at Brenton Persian Grill. I had Fesenjan:

A traditional Persian stew made with pomegranate molasses, walnuts & sauteed onions served with (or without) sliced chicken breast and saffron basmati rice. We recommend you have it with our Shirazi salad.

I took their advice and had it with the Shirazi salad which was finely chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion in lemon juice and mint and was delicious. I took home some leftover Fesenjan which Dan ate the next day and said my dish was probably the best of all three that we'd ordered.

Then we were off to the Cathedral Church of All Saints for A King's Christmas 2016, music from the University of King's College Chapel Choir.

The music was magnificent, the narrator was dramatic and accomplished, the stories and poems were eclectic. Some of the music was sung in Latin, in French, in olde English and in Gaelic. A lot of it was quite profound.

A very different evening was spent with the actor Rhys Bevan-John who did a one-man show of A Christmas Carol. It was nothing at all like I expected but it was great fun and it retained the message of the original story and the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge. We're big supporters of Eastern Front Theatre whose production this was and we were pleased when the artistic producer, Jeremy Webb, told us that he had solicited support from the business community to provide a theatre experience for families who can't usually afford tickets. That will be a Christmas Eve event.

I'm very glad we were able to take in these live productions but in the end, it may turn out that the highlight of our season was on a movie screen — the filmed live performance of The Nutcracker by the Bolshoi Ballet.

What is it that makes something the "best in the world"? The Bolshoi has often been called that and from the very first movement of the dancers, you would get no argument from me.

The two principals dancing the roles of Marie and the Prince were Anna Nikulina and Denis Rodkin.



Anna was born in Moscow. In 2002, she completed her training at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography (teacher Elena Vatulya) with distinction and joined the Bolshoi Ballet Company. She rehearsed under the late Yekaterina Maximova. In 2004, at the age of 19, she danced Odette-Odile for the first time. Today her teacher-repetiteur is Nina Semizorova.

Denis was also born in Moscow. In 2009, after graduation from Moscow State Academic Dance Theatre Gzhel he joined the Bolshoi Ballet Company where he started to rehearse with Nikolai Tsiskaridze. Now his master-repetiteur is Yuri Vladimirov. In 2013, graduated from Bolshoi Ballet Academy (The Faculty of Education).

When Anna and Denis danced — alone, with other members of the company, or in their breath-taking pas de deux, it was easy to imagine that their feet were not touching the floor. I can't begin to describe the transcendence I felt while watching them.

Our host at the ballet did a short interview with Denis Rodkin at intermission. She introduced him to us as the "most beautiful man in the Bolshoi company." He's a beauty all right. He played the Prince a little shyly, a little distant, but also warm and loving. He was very appealing.

There you have it, some of our Christmas entertainment. There may be more to come; I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Blue lights, bubble lights, revolving trees — it's Christmas!

A few days ago, I told Dan I had come up with a new slogan that I hoped would catch on: "Christmas. It's all about change!"

I was reacting — immaturely, I suppose — to some annoyingly sweet reference to Christmas being all about love and family and tradition and doing it in such an over-sentimentalized, tear-jerking, exploitative way that it just rubbed me the wrong way. It was trying to take you back to where it thinks your childhood Christmas is lurking.

But I guess they're right. Christmas isn't about change. It's about doing things over and over and over, every year, in exactly the same way. Isn't it? Isn't it?

You can see that I made myself think.

In fact, every year, I look at the Canadian Tire catalogue and all the flyers and brochures from the hardware stores and the department stores and I see page after page of "new" Christmas stuff — new-style trees and wreaths and lights and ornaments — and I always wonder who's buying it? There's way too much simply to supply a young generation of people just starting out and buying their Christmas stuff. But doesn't everyone else already have all their stuff? And don't they use it making the same Christmas year after year?

It so happens that we went the other night to David Myles' Christmas show with Symphony Nova Scotia. David does put on a good show. He has so much personality and he’s funny — not to mention a good singer/musician. He sang a lot of the old familiars and some of his own Christmas compositions which turned out to be nice also.

One of the songs he sang was one I didn't know: Buck Owens' Blue Christmas Lights.

(Excuse me, Miss, but do you have any...)

Blue Christmas lights for my Christmas tree?

I want some blue Christmas lights just as blue as me

The one I love has set me free, but I still got her memory

Give me blue Christmas lights for my Christmas tree. . .

It wasn't a great song, not particularly memorable, but there must have been something evocative about it because right there, in the middle of the concert, I began to think back to my childhood and the very first tree I ever saw that was covered completely with blue lights.

In the '50s, in Chatham, NB, I lived in the NB Power Commission houses — commonly called the "hydro houses" — right on the edge of town. I often remind people that the Welcome to Chatham sign was in our backyard.

There were six houses, three on each side of the small cul-de-sac, each one across from its own mirror image. On our side, our house was closest to the road. In the middle was the Calabrese family, and next to them, the Parks family.

The Parks two oldest girls were almost my age — Edith (Edie) a little bit older, Lynn a little bit younger — and we spent a lot of childhood time together. It was always a little bit of an adventure for me because their family was very different from mine. It was a big family, four kids then, five later, and much more raucous than mine. My family would probably be considered reserved.

When I look back now, I think the Parks parents, Anna and Howard, were very young — maybe barely out of their 20s. They were from up-river. Anna was from Whitneyville and Howard from (I'm pretty sure) Sunny Corner. Howard was robust and a great kidder. My mother probably wouldn't have approved of some of the things I heard when I was over there.

But they took great enjoyment out of life and Christmas was a time of year that they leaped into with gusto. They had spectacular decorations and it was there that I first saw a tree that was completely lit with blue lights. And now that I think about it, the blue-lit tree was only one of their Christmas trees that I remember. One year, Howard had the tree on a revolving platform that turned at the flick of an electric switch.

Of course, the tree had to be placed out into the room, away from the walls, and it had to be decorated all the way around, not just on the part that faced the room. I may be embellishing it in my own memory but I think there was music involved too. I think Christmas melodies played while the tree was revolving. It was quite a neighbourhood attraction.

Another year, the Parks' tree had these lights. Do you remember these?

I'm not sure they ever caught on in a big way. I've probably seen them a few times since that year at the Parks but I think I remember reading or hearing that they weren't very reliable and maybe were more trouble than they were worth.

Our family pretty much had these and we had them as long as I can remember.

Every year, they came out of the box and Dad would untangle them and plug them in and replace the ones that weren't lit. The only new bulbs that ever got bought at our house were the little packages of replacement bulbs.

But you can't run a consumer society on a family like ours, who used all the same Christmas stuff year after year. (I still have some of it — not the lights but the treasured old glass ornaments.) Today, Howard would have the time of his life at the Canadian Tire, changing it up every Christmas and delighting little neighbour kids with theme trees, coloured trees, and trees of all sizes for all occasions — tasteful, tacky and otherwise.

Howard would have a ball.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trump: Worst of the worse, lowest of the low

The rotten deed has now been done and it's all over except for the disastrous consequences. You can't unvote. You can't unelect the declared winner of the just-past US election.

I'm not going to list all the descriptors that have been used about him during the campaign. . . oh, okay, I will: racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, cruel, mean. Shall I go on or is that enough?

Any one of those would have been a good enough reason for me — and probably for you — not to vote for him.

But consider this: Donald Trump pimped 14 and 15 year old girls to rich old men, telling the girls that having sex with the old men would help them in their modelling careers.

"The morals of Donald J. Trump, as a longtime model lover and then a modeling agency owner, were forged in another era, one in which young girls were used as a sort of currency between men doing business with one another." (Italics and emphasis mine.)



I have no intention of rating his behaviour — bad, worse, appalling, disgusting, criminal — and I know his taunts and threats and actions are much more frightening for some people than for others. But how can anyone who voted for Donald Trump face the fact that he trafficked in young girls, that he deliberately brought them to places where revolting old men were waiting to pay money to "have sex" with them?

Interviewing Donald Trump always had/has a pattern. I can imagine how frustrating it must be. First, you ask him about providing young girls for old men at parties in the Plaza Hotel. He casually dismisses it, says it's a bunch of lies. You tell him there are witnesses who are willing to be named. He says they're liars and he'll sue them. He'll change the subject, attack an opponent or the media, go on the offence. If you're interviewing him on live TV, you probably feel that you have to move on.

But trafficking teenage girls is more than just mean or threatening or sexist. It is clearly a criminal act. Why was he not investigated, arrested, charged during the campaign? Maybe the witnesses were not reliable. Maybe there was no evidence. But did law enforcement even look? This information was in the public domain and there's nothing vague about it. The writer is a credible reporter and understands the principles of proper sourcing.

Why isn't Trump in jail?

I sometimes try to imagine these people who voted for Trump. I know it's not an easy answer. I know there was a cross-section of the population and there were definitely people we'd prefer not to think about.

But I was thinking today about those evangelical fundamentalist fathers who take their daughters to a "Purity Ball" and have their little girls swear a pledge to remain virgins until marriage.

More than 60 per cent of evangelical "Christians" supported Donald Trump. Without a doubt, many of those supporters are fathers who tooks their own daughters to a Purity Ball. How can they justify their vote when they know that Trump pimped 14-year-olds to rich old men for his own disgusting ends?

In fact, did the evangelical dads ever give a thought to how Trump relates to his own daughter?



In an. . .interview from September 2004, [Howard] Stern asks Trump if he can call Ivanka "a piece of ass," to which Trump responds in the affirmative.

"My daughter is beautiful, Ivanka," says Trump.

"By the way, your daughter," says Stern.

"She's beautiful," responds Trump.

"Can I say this? A piece of ass," Stern responds.

"Yeah," says Trump.





So much has been spoken and written about Donald Trump that's there's nothing much left to say. I'm just having a hard time getting past those goddamn hypocrites who take their own precious daughters to Purity Balls and then vote for a misogynist jerk who doesn't mind using other people's daughters for his own perverted reasons.

And I don't care what reasons those fake-religious guys give for voting the way they did. The hell with them.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Move? I'd rather die. Or get a divorce

No, I've never heard anyone say that about moving even though death, divorce and moving are considered pretty much equal in all the lists of stress-producing life events.

And without doubt, moving can be very stressful. Which is why I'm going to give you two pieces of advice which you will almost certainly ignore. I'm going to give it anyway:

Starting today, don't buy anything you don't need. No kitchen gadgets, no pretty little picture frames just because they're on sale, no plastic toys for the kids/grandkids, no trendy tools that "might come in handy someday." I mean it. Don't buy stuff.

Furthermore, even if you have no intention of moving, get rid of stuff. Even if you plan to stay in the abode where you're living until the end of time, someone will, at some point, have to deal with the stuff. How much easier is it to deal with it now, little by little, a designated amount every week? And you'll feel so good about yourself.

We moved early in October. I told you a little bit about it right here. It's a little over a month-and-a-half and we're happily settled and enjoying our new place although we're still arranging everything, just the way we think things should be. I made a point of not duplicating arrangements as they were in our other place. There are still boxes to be unpacked.

Because the move is such a big topic and could cover so much, I've narrowed it down to three things (and please, click on the photos):

1. The View:

When you think of Halifax, maybe you think of the Public Gardens and the Citadel. There they are: the Gardens in the left foreground, Citadel Hill in the background. You can even catch a glimpse of the Macdonald Bridge — the "old" bridge — in the upper left hand corner.



In this one, you can see much more of the bridge. You can also see Citadel High School, the hospitals and a closer view of the Gardens where things are becoming more visible every day as the leaves come down.



This one looks straight down to the harbour and across to Dartmouth. You can see the magnificent Waterfront Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and I often see a container ship or a tugboat or the Woodside ferry making a crossing. I even occasionally see a Naval vessel on its way out of the harbour.

I make a point of spending time every day, honouring a vow I made to myself that I would never take the view for granted. I enjoy it so much.

2. The Sky

The street we moved away from is lined on both sides with 100-year-old trees. They're beautiful and the street is the very definition of a "leafy, shady, residential street."

This is how it looked from our verandah.

It couldn't be pleasanter but I'm enjoying all the drama that goes on in the sky when you can see so much of it. I like watching the weather roll in, not to mention the fog. I'm never up in time to watch the sunrise but I know it's there.

I enjoy seeing the moon, super or otherwise, and I'm looking forward to the next time I see a note in the media announcing meteor showers. The celestial spectacles are just a bit of a change.

3. The Sounds

Yes, I enjoy the sounds of the city. For some people, I suppose it's just noise but it gives me the feeling of being engaged, of being in the centre of something. I like the background hum — air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, whatever it is that happens on the tops of buildings. I like the sound of the traffic — the buses, the street cleaning truck, the garbage and recycling.

Halifax is a military town so we hear helicopters and the occasional drone of a heavy military plane as it comes in low for a landing at Shearwater across the harbour.

And we're next door to a school so we can hear the charming sound of children playing at recess and the always recognizable sound of a bouncing basketball.

Until recently, I could hear the Harbour Hopper as it made its regular rounds. The Harbour Hopper is an amphibious vehicle that schleps tourists around the streets of Halifax and then plunges into the water and takes a little spin around the harbour. It provides a running commentary. I've never taken the tour but I've heard some of the commentary from the sidewalk as it passed by and I managed to keep myself from leaping aboard and correcting the inaccuracies. Fortunately, from my apartment, I could hear the voices but couldn't really discern the words.

The sights and sounds of trade and commerce often remind me of one of the favourite children's books that we read when William was little. It was called Night Cars.

It is late at night in the city. From his father's shoulder, a sleepless baby watches the snow drift down from the sky onto the busy street below. What are all those noises? What are all those lights? His tired but patient father explains everything, from the bustle of taxis swishing through the slush to the grinding and slamming of the early-morning garbage trucks.

The book had a very moody quality and was lovely to read. It was written by Teddy Jam, the pen name of author Matt Cohen. I may have to get it out and read it again.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Don't worry, we'll find it when we move

I have a very clear memory from early childhood — I may have been four years old — of looking for something precious that I'd lost. I think it was some kind of a fancy pencil, with tassels and ribbons, a treasure that was uncommon in those days unlike today where fancy pencils turned up in every loot bag of every birthday party your kid ever went to.

We were still living in Newcastle Creek on New Brunswick's Grand Lake but even at that tender age, I must have heard about and anticipated moving away. It's hard to imagine that the concept of gathering up everything in the house and taking it to another house would be clear to me but I remember searching through the rooms for my fancy pencil and then telling myself, "Don't worry, we'll find it when we move."

It's become a catch-phrase for me over the years and believe it or not, it's quite a comforting thought. You can't find it? Don't worry, we'll find it when we move.

When you're packing up your house to move — yes we are — the first universal truth you run into is that the further you are into the process, the more ruthless you become. Two or three days ago, whatever you're holding in your hand might have had a chance. "Well, I might use that sometime." Today, nope. Throw it in the garbage.

Of course, throwing things away is not as simple as it used to be when you could just toss it. Now you have to take it apart and put some of it in the green bin, some of it in the bag of paper, some of it in recycling — after all that deconstruction, maybe then you have something to throw in the garbage.

People want to know why we're moving. The answer I've perfected is that I need/want a different life rhythm. I've enjoyed the life I've lived here and I still do. It's become routine though and I'm pretty sure I'm ready for some new routines. Once we decided to do it, we said let's not wait. We'll do it as if we're ripping off a band-aid.

That's why we're here on the eve of the moving van's arrival, still emptying shelves and drawers, filling up boxes, going through years of papers and possessions, making some hard choices. Doing it this way though has saved us from a year of sadness, saying, "This is our last summer in the house," or "This is our last Christmas here."

I've lived in this house for 18 years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere. It seems a long time to me although it must seem like nothing for some people — some people I know, in fact, now in their 80s and still living in the house they were born in. They wouldn't have it any other way.

There are lots of things I'll miss. And there are new things to enjoy.

I think it will be fun to stroll up the street to the library, browse through the books, have a cup of coffee — and maybe stop at Pete's on the way home to pick up something tasty for dinner.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for us, surrounded by boxes and packing paper, sorting through old letters and programs and souvenir tickets, kind of regretfully tossing the Christmas cards because we haven't thrown out one Christmas card since we've moved here.

What can I tell you? We're the sentimental types.